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30 Mar 2020

Specialist disability housing is one way to get young people out of aged care

This expert article is by Helga Smit, Compass Housing Services' Executive Manager for Specialist Disability Accommodation.

New National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) data shows there are more than 5,400 people under 65 living in residential aged care. There were more than 6200 in 2017 but the numbers are way too high and account for about five per cent of all aged care beds. The number of younger people entering residential aged care each year is still more than 380.

The aged care system is designed to support the needs of older people, not younger people with disability. Nursing homes just don’t have the equipment, staff levels or medical knowledge to look after the health and wellbeing of a young person with fluctuating and very individual needs.

The Aged Care Royal Commission hearings highlighted the problems having younger people in aged care creates for younger people but also for aged care facilities and other residents. When the Commission released its damning interim report in October 2019 it recommended getting younger people out of residential aged care as one of three areas for immediate action, describing it as a "national embarrassment" and "human rights issue".

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is one solution to help young people access the rehabilitation needed to restore health and independence; and to live in the community as other able-bodied young people do.

Young people in aged care mostly have an acquired disability, as a result of catastrophic injury or through progressive neurological diseases, with complex support needs. They require support from different parts of the health and welfare system including health, disability and sometimes aged care.

They often end up in aged care from the hospital system. Once acute care is no longer needed, the hospital, understandably, looks to discharge the person as soon as is possible in order to free up beds.

But there are barriers to young people moving from the health system to specialist disability housing, rather than aged care, that we must urgently address.

The Australian Government has new targets to tackle this problem. It wants no people under the age of 65 to enter residential aged care by 2022, none under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022 and none under the age of 65 will in residential aged care by 2025.

Prior to the Commission’s report it had developed a national action plan, commenced a new NDIS Complex Support Needs Pathway and announced significant reforms in SDA to improve choice and control for eligible NDIS participants, build market confidence and drive stronger investment.

But eligible people need to have SDA included in their NDIS plans up front so they, or the people who support them, can commission a home from the market that suits their individual needs.

The problem is that NDIS processes mean it takes time to get SDA in a plan and people with disabilities are not getting NDIS funding quickly enough to modify their houses or look for an SDA home.

Residential aged care facilities have places readily available while there has been a shortage of suitable disability housing and the NDIS has been much less responsive. Health practitioners lack knowledge of NDIS pathways and processes. NDIS processes delay hospital discharge so staff look for “easier” options such as aged care.

The national action plan aims to give young people in aged care with access to specialist NDIA planners via the Complex Support Needs Pathway to help them to exit and avoid residential aged care. We need support coordinators who can tap into housing and support options including SDA but many are unaware of the available SDA.

SDA providers are building more special disability housing. Compass Housing Services has vacancies in modern, high support, homes. We need more awareness of SDA amongst people with a disability, their families, and others in the community. I recently spoke to a mother of a person with a disability, who is also a disability worker, who was unaware of SDA and the need for it in NDIS plans. 

Every day I have the joy of seeing people with disabilities thriving in this new accommodation. They are learning new skills as they are supported to live more independently, in the community, rather than an institution. 

Let’s work together to make this a reality for more people with disabilities, including those trapped in aged care.

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25 Mar 2020

Compass Housing welcomes grant for community hub in Weston

Compass Housing Services has welcomed a $30,000 grant through the NSW Government's 2019 Community Building Partnership Program to help in the planning and building of a community hub in Weston, near Cessnock in NSW.

The project is one of 21 in the Cessnock electorate which shared in $300,000 in funding.

Compass is proposing to build a hub that is modeled on its award winning hubs in operation in Broken Hill and on the Central Coast.

The hubs are one of the many service Compass delivers, in addition to housing, to support tenants in maintaining their tenancies, to create sustainable housing communities and enable residents to access wider services provided by partner agencies. They offer residents a place to meet, socialise and volunteer.

Community hubs support community development.

The Meeting Place was established in a large social and affordable housing estate at Tumbi Umbi on the Central Coast in 2011 by Compass Housing, in partnership with Housing NSW. It is designed to foster a more inclusive environment to diminish barriers between social housing and the general community. It won the national 2018 PowerHousing Award for tenant engagement and social inclusion.

The 123Hub in Broken Hill opened in 2015. It provides a one stop shop from which more than 20 NGOs and Government agencies run 30 different programs. It was built using $100,000 of funding from Compass and runs without taxpayer funding.

The Community Building Partnership program awards grants to the community to invest in infrastructure projects that deliver positive social, environmental and recreational outcomes, while promoting community participation, inclusion and cohesion.

Applications for the 2020 round will open May 4 at www.nsw.gov.au/cbp.

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24 Mar 2020

Important COVID-19 Update from Compass | 24 March 2020

Compass is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and taking steps to help keep the community safe.

In order to minimise unnecessary face-to-face contact and prevent the spread of the virus, all offices are effectively closed to non-essential staff. Work-from-home arrangements are in place across the organisation.

Our call-centre will continue to operate as normal and our staff remain ready to assist you. Our contact number is 1300 333 733.

Urgent and emergency repairs will continue to be provided as normal; however some extra precautions have been put in place to ensure appropriate social distancing is maintained.

Our Corporate Services and Finance departments will continue to operate as normal, and staff will remain contactable through the normal channels.

Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, it is likely that we will need to adapt our response in the weeks and months ahead. Throughout this period, we will continue to provide tenants and other stakeholders with regular updates about any changes to our operating procedure.

If you have questions about any of this information, don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 1300 333 733.

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19 Mar 2020

Important COVID-19 Update from Compass | 19 March 2020

At Compass, the safety of our tenants, residents and staff is our top priority. We are actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and taking steps to help keep the community safe.

At this time, our branch offices will remain open. However, to minimise unnecessary face-to-face contact, we encourage anyone planning to visit a branch office to call ahead and make an appointment. Our contact number is 1300 333 733. The call-centre will continue to operate as normal.

Urgent and emergency repairs will continue to be provided as normal. However, we are introducing some additional precautions to safeguard the health and wellbeing of both tenants and contractors. We are liaising with contractors directly in relation to these precautions.

Work-from-home arrangements have been put in place for all non-frontline staff and our head office is currently closed for non-essential meetings. Compass has the technological capability to continue to provide appropriate services during this time. Our Corporate Services and Finance departments will continue to operate as normal, and staff will remain contactable through the normal channels.

Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, it is likely that we will need to adapt our response in the weeks and months ahead. Throughout this period, we will continue to provide tenants and other stakeholders with regular updates about any changes to our operating procedure.

If you have questions about any of this information, don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 1300 333 733.

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06 Mar 2020

Compass supports Hunter Disability Expo

Hunter Disability Expo

*** UPDATE 17 MARCH 2020***

The Hunter Disabiltiy Expo has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Organisers will post updates on the Expo site HERE

Friday 3 and Saturday 4 April  |  9am to 3pm 
Newcastle Racecourse
Register for this free event for fast entry.


Leading provider of disability housing and specialist disability accommodation (SDA), Compass Housing, is taking part in the Hunter Disability Expo.

Compass’ SDA team will have a stand at the Expo. It is also a silver sponsor.

Compass’ Executive Manager Specialist Disability Accommodation, Helga Smit, is delivering an expert presentation at the Expo on Friday April 3 on how specialist disability accommodation can help improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families.  

She said the expo will be an opportunity to meet with people with disabilities and their families about how Compass can help them with their housing needs.

“With new, purpose built housing available and investors ready to do more in the disability space, we are keen to get to know what people want and how to best work together, to deliver disability housing solutions that improve the lives of people with  disability,” Ms Smit said. “We have vacancies and want to offer housing solutions to meet the needs of people with disabilities,” she said.

“Compass has a long and successful history of managing homes for people with high and complex levels of support.”

“In a recent NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission audit, Compass met all the requirements of the SDA Module and achieved a recommendation for the highest rating of 3 Best Practice in both NDIS Tenancy Management and Rights & Responsibilities practice standards.”

Compass Housing is one of the largest SDA providers in Australia managing more than 114 existing group homes in Sydney, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley, Central Cost, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, New England, Southern NSW, Wagga and Dubbo.

It also manages five respite homes in the NSW Central West and Sydney.

In a recent transfer Compass, as the Specialist Disability Accommodation Provider (SDA), formed partnerships with various leading Supported Independent Living (SIL) providers to deliver high-quality specialist disability accommodation and maintenance services to 540 residents.

Compass is a partner in Home4Life which was selected by the NSW Government to manage properties in the Hunter Residences project. Home4Life has purpose built 65 High Physical Support SDA houses to enable 325 residents to move out of institutions into homes in communities.  

When current programs are finalised, Compass will manage around 1070 special disability accommodation places across Australia.

Compass is registered under the National Community Housing Regulatory System (NCHRS) as a Tier 1 Provider and holds a full certificate accreditation. It is also a nationally registered Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Provider with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

It also offers Fee for Service SDA property and tenancy management services for Summer Housing in NSW and QLD and will soon provide similar services for investLogan in Queensland.

The event is set to be the biggest and most anticipated Disability Expo in the Hunter this year.

For more information on Compass’ Specialist Disability Accommodation and disability housing properties, go to www.compasshousing.org/sda-vacancies or email sda@compasshousing.org

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